How Charli XCX Scored Her Biggest Album Yet and Ushered in ‘BRAT’ Summer (2024)

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Now that it’s officially summer, we can start calling 2024 the summer of BRAT. Charli XCX’s sixth studio album, released June 7 on Atlantic Records, has taken the internet, and dance floors, by storm, spawning memes, jokes and posts galore, all colored the fluorescent “brat green” on social media — and that’s before you even get to the music. The record itself is a triumph of dance-pop that has not only ignited Charli’s legions of fans but brought her the biggest debut week of her career, having moved 82,000 equivalent album units in the United States to debut at No. 3 on the Billboard 200.

It’s a testament to the groundswell of support that Charli has cultivated, and that her management team, creative and design teams, and label Atlantic Records have helped nurture. The album arrived with 14 different vinyl variants and a number of exclusive editions, helping to sell 45,000 copies (the biggest sales week of Charli’s career) while becoming nearly inescapable in the cultural discourse. It also proved that Charli is a true innovator who’s much more than the “Boom Clap” and “I Love It” hits of a decade ago, or even the songwriting superstar she’s been for other artists throughout her career. All that hype and success has helped Atlantic’s vp of marketing Marisa Aron earn the title of Billboard’s Executive of the Week.

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Here, Aron discusses the marketing plan and rollout of BRAT, how Charli helped build hype for the album more than a year ago and the groundswell of support — including a gigantic record-store listening party at more than 170 stores across the country three days before the album’s release — that led into BRAT’s debut. But just as the solstice has only passed this week, there’s much more to come: as Aron puts it, “BRAT Summer has just begun.”

This week, Charli XCX’s BRAT debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 with 82,000 equivalent album units, her biggest first week ever. What key decision did you make to help make that happen?

The success of BRAT is a testament to Charli’s incredible artistry and vision. She not only created the most culturally important pop and dance album of the year but also delivered a masterclass in artistic direction and marketing strategy. Charli has an amazing team, and together with the unwavering support from our team at Atlantic we all worked to execute her vision to the fullest. Our key decision? To trust her implicitly. We fully embraced her vision, her plan, her ideas and helped her bring BRAT to life.

What was the overall marketing plan for the release?

The marketing plan for BRAT is all about amplifying Charli’s authentic voice and connecting directly with her fans. We knew we had an incredibly important album on our hands, one that was innovative, bold, fun, loud and would create a lot of conversation. We wanted to put together a campaign that captured that energy and put BRAT into the cultural zeitgeist. The plan doesn’t end with the album release; stay tuned, there is a lot more to come.

The album also sold 45,000 copies, her largest sales week ever, including 14 different vinyl variants. What was your guys’ approach to physical for this album, and how did it pay off?

The physical release plan was so much fun to put together. It was a collaborative effort between Charli; [creative director] Imogene Strauss; design team SPECIAL OFFER, Inc.; Charli’s management team; and our team at Atlantic. From the start, we wanted to create a series of limited-edition drops that would keep fans excited throughout the campaign. It was important that each variant felt unique and special both in design and in the rollout.

We started the campaign ahead of the album and artwork announcement with the limited edition 360_brat vinyl, released at first only to Charli’s followers on her private Instagram. This moment helped set the tone for the rest of the campaign. When the official album pre-order went live, we partnered with major retailers like Target and Urban Outfitters, as well as local record stores, Blood Records and more to create exclusive variants that gave fans more options to choose from.

On Tuesday, June 4th, we unleashed BRAT into the world a little early. Thousands of Charli’s fans went to their local record stores for a first listen, three days before the official release. It was a massive undertaking — Atlantic’s biggest listening event campaign ever — with 179 stores across the country.

BRAT’s physical release wasn’t just about sales figures; it was about creating a deeper connection with fans. From the unique packaging that you have to rip into to get to the music, to the events and limited-edition drops, it is a reminder that in the digital age, the physical album can still be a powerful, personal and meaningful experience.

This album almost immediately became a cultural touchstone, and was a huge talking point online, with fans making memes of the cover art and the color palette seemingly everywhere. What was your approach to the digital marketplace for the project?

The BRAT campaign started in February when Charli threw a legendary Boiler Room in Brooklyn with A. G. Cook, George Daniel, Finn Keane and Doss, drawing a record-breaking 40,000 RSVPs — the most in the history of Boiler Room. There were surprise appearances from Addison Rae and Julia Fox. This was the first time people got to hear a few tracks from the forthcoming album, turning it into one of the year’s most viral moments and really setting the tone for what was to come.

The approach was about creating really memorable moments both online and in real life, from surprise DJ sets, exclusive Club Angel events, single reworks with Addison Rae, Robyn, Yung Lean, Skream and Benga to one of the most talked about music videos of the year (“360”) and so much more. We carefully planned out the timing of it all.

The “brat green” that we all have filling our timelines right now goes back to Charli’s brilliant vision for BRAT artwork. Once the artwork was revealed fans started to recreate it themselves, which inspired us to launch the brat generator. From there, it really started to take on a life of its own. We continued to incorporate brat green throughout all the marketing. One of the most fun pre-album moments in the campaign happened in Brooklyn a few days before “360” was released. Terry [from the digital team] had an amazing idea of painting a huge wall “brat green” during a livestream, and thus the “brat wall” was born.

It’s been 12 years since Charli first hit the Hot 100 top 10 with her feature on Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” and 10 years since Charli’s first solo Hot 100 top 10 with “Boom Clap.” Her career feels bigger now than it’s ever been. How did you energize those day one fans and pull in new ones for the run-up to this release?

Speaking from my own experience, it honestly is just really fun to be a Charli fan. For example, a full year before the album campaign even started Charli brilliantly started a new private Instagram account, @360_brat. What goes down on that account is strictly confidential, so I won’t give too much away. But Charli’s early vision and authenticity has made BRAT an undeniable phenomenon which really resonated with her early fans, and then throughout the campaign brought new fans in.

How Charli XCX Scored Her Biggest Album Yet and Ushered in ‘BRAT’ Summer (2024)
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